By: Dave Zeitlin
PHILADELPHIA – For much of Wednesday’s game at Wells Fargo Center, it looked like the Philadelphia 76ers would finally snap their franchise-record losing streak.
In the end, though, D.J. Augustin and Taj Gibson simply would not allow it.
Augustin and Gibson scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, to lead six Bulls in double figures as Chicago escaped a serious scare with a 102-94 win over the Sixers.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They’re hard to play. They’re scrappy. They go after the ball. And they’re very good coming from behind.”
Joakim Noah added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls (38-30), who have won three of their last four heading into Friday’s showdown with the rival Indiana Pacers. Jimmy Butler added 16 points, Mike Dunleavy had 15 points – including 11 in the first quarter to help Chicago build an early lead – and Carlos Boozer had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“We needed everyone,” Thibodeau said. “We had a lot of guys step up.”
Thaddeus Young paced the Sixers (15-53) with a game-high 24 points and Tony Wroten added 17 on 4-of-6 3-point shooting.
In complete tanking mode, the Sixers extended their losing streak to 22 as they close in on the NBA record of 26, which was set by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Nicely positioned in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Bulls are on the opposite end of the spectrum as the Sixers – but they claimed not to have overlooked them.
“They’re a good team, man,” Augustin said. “Just because of their losing streak, they’re still a good team.”
The Sixers certainly put some heat on their guests in the second half, pulling within one on an acrobatic Henry Sims layup with 8:19 left in the game and then tying it at 85 on a Young 3-pointer less than a minute later to get the crowd riled up.
But Butler and Augustin quickly quieted the crowd with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Bulls a 91-85 edge with just under six minutes to go.
“We needed to make big plays,” Thibodeau said. “I thought D.J. stepped up – he made plays. I thought Taj was terrific. Jimmy, I thought was very good throughout. And I thought Carlos was very good tonight.”
Even after the Bulls went up six late in the fourth quarter, the Sixers kept the heat on with a few more big shots. But Augustin and Gibson combined for Chicago’s next seven points to make sure the Bulls would avoid the dubious feat of being the only team this season to lose twice to the Sixers - barely.
“It’s playoff basketball, what you just saw,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “That is a blue-collar defensive type of team.”